Turtle Town and Molokini snorkeling at its best on the Malolo!
Have you been to Molokini Crater yet? This volcanic caldera is one of the most interesting and beautiful snorkel sites in Maui, and the Malolo Molokini snorkeling tour can take you there! The peak of Molokini once jutted from the surface of the sea. Over time, most of the peak eroded, and the crater within filled up with seawater. A large coral reef developed inside the bowl, creating shelter, community, and food for all sorts of marine life. There are only a few places on Earth like Molokini, and since you are here on Maui, now is your chance to experience one!
Great location in Molokini
We have a great mooring location in Molokini Crater. We moor in the center of the crater where it is shallow. There’s not too much wave action, and there are lots of corals and fish. Molokini snorkeling is awesome right there.
Malolo is a US Coast Guard certified passenger vessel. We undergo yearly inspections to ensure we uphold the highest standards in boat maintenance and safety. Malolo has been running snorkel charters in Maui for over 25 years. It is well suited to this environment.
Relaxing fun music
We have a great playlist of Hawaiian, rock and contemporary music for your listening enjoyment. You can dance if you really want to.
Breakfast and lunch included
Breakfast and lunch are both included. Breakfast is continental consisting of muffins and juice. Lunch consists of deli-style sandwiches made up of turkey and ham, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. Serve yourself, so you can build your own sandwich! And of course we have all the appropriate condiments, mayo, mustard etc. We guarantee you won’t leave hungry.
It is always nice to have a freshwater rinse after an hour in the salt. Also, if you don’t wash the salt off, your shirt feels really weird on your back. We only use grade A Maui water in our shower. Just kidding! Well, it is Maui water, but I made up the rest.
Comfortable seating with backrests
All seats have a backrest. It is really nice to have something to lean back against when you’re trying to relax. No hunched over positions here. Hang out in style.
The Malolo is a 55 foot catamaran with a nice shady cabin, as well as plenty of seating that catches the Maui sunlight. There are restrooms for your convenience, fun music to listen to while you watch the sea, and a continental breakfast and lunch. The food is great, and honestly a really fun part of the trip on the Malolo.
Are you suddenly thinking about eating chocolate chip muffins on the Pacific Ocean? Me, too! Now, imagine piling on the fixin’s as you make your own deli sandwich for lunch. Mmm, mmm!
On this half-day trip, you’ll visit two snorkel sites: Molokini Crater and Turtle Town. You can get on and off the boat from both the front and the back (that’s landlubber language for bow and stern), using steps and ladders. Once the pool’s open, you can also simply jump into the water, of course.
2 snorkel sites
We visit Molokini and Turtle Town! Molokini is Maui’s #1 snorkeling destination, and it’s only accessible by boat. It is a marine life conservation district and bird sanctuary with 180 foot visibility all year round. Molokini snorkeling is like being in a fish bowl. Turtle Town is an awesome reef area where turtles hang out.
Maui Brews specialty island beer and mai tais
New addition for 2016! We have added Maui Brews specialty beers. Maui Brews makes their beer right here on island. They have exploded in popularity over the past 5 years. Our crew makes great mai tais topped with pineapple juice and dark rum. Both are great refreshments while relaxing in the sun.
Great selection of sodas
We have a full selection of sodas including Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, root beer and more. POG and other juices are also available. You are able to serve yourself on the Malolo, so you typically never have to wait for a refill.
This crater is smack dab in the middle of the middle of the ocean. Molokini is three miles off the southern coast of Maui, which is pretty much in the center of the sea to begin with! (Did you know that Hawaii is the most remote archipelago on Earth?) The inside of Molokini’s crescent faces Maui, so it is protected from most open-ocean wave action. Because this reef is sheltered, the underwater visibility tends to exceed 150 feet every day. The clarity of the water is one of the best things about Molokini snorkeling.
The fish at Molokini are quite used to human visitors, as people have been snorkeling there for years, now. All you have to do to see fish is put your face in the water, or just look through the porthole on a kickboard! My Aunt Peggy from the mainland loves to snorkel. She once described the wonder of it like this: “It’s as if the fish are painted and put there just for me to see. I always think to myself, these are so beautiful, they have got to be fake.” She laughed, recalling fond marine memories.
Kickboards with portholes
If you don’t want to put your face in the water, you can still enjoy watching the fish. Just float on one of these boards, move around by kicking, and look into the water through the plexiglas porthole. You can always head back and put on your mask, if you feel ready to try Molokini snorkeling. These boards are great for kids. They can get used to the idea of swimming in an aquarium.
Great snorkeling equipment
We use top-of-the-line frameless silicone masks and Aqualung EZ Breathe valve snorkels. These snorkels are great because they have a valve on the top and the bottom that helps keep water out of your mouth. Our masks fit almost everyone perfectly with a comfortable, airtight seal. No air leakage, and no water in the eyes and nose – capisce?
Easy staircase into the water on back and front of boat
Malolo has easy access into and out of the water on both the front and rear of the boat. On the front, our gradual sloping steps are at nearly the same angle as any normal land-based stairway. This makes water access easy for young, old and everyone in between. On the rear, the water access is a bit more like a ladder, however, the space between the steps is small, so the access is still very easy. All water access steps have handrails.
When you’re Molokini snorkeling, all your worries float away while you float above one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.
Speaking of floating, the Malolo comes equipped with plenty of ways to help you float! There are wetsuits, which also help to keep you warm. We have noodles, which are super fun and bendable. (I like to shape mine into a swing and then sit on it in the water! Plus, noodles are built like giant straws, so you can blow seawater through them, thus splashing your siblings, parents, and/or children.) The Malolo also offers float belts, which are basically huge yellow fanny packs that wrap around your waist and hold you up. And if you don’t need any of those things, that’s fine too.
You do need to know how to swim before going snorkeling. If you can swim, but you have never snorkeled before, no problem! We’ll teach you how to snorkel! All the equipment you need is on board, including prescription snorkel masks. The Malolo has a caring and attentive captain and crew who want to see you safe and happy while Molokini snorkeling and visiting Turtle Town (a second site that I’ll talk about shortly)!
The sea floor in the center of Molokini – near Malolo’s mooring – is almost completely covered by coral. The reef is made up of about 38 different hard coral species. It is also home to hundreds of colorful fish, eels, and octopuses, and it is sometimes a way station for what marine biologists like to call charismatic megafauna. The larger marine animals in the Hawaiian Islands include sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, manta rays, Hawaiian monk seals, spinner dolphins, spotted dolphins, whitetip reef sharks, whale sharks, and humpback whales (in season, of course)! These bigger ocean animals do show their lovely fins and faces at times, so keep your fingers crossed that your day will be an extra lucky one! While you daydream, check out this Fish ID Guide highlighting many of the species you’ll encounter while Molokini snorkeling.
The fish you’ll see while Molokini snorkeling are all kinds of colors and shapes. There is the triangular-shaped cowfish; the bluefin trevally, all bullet head and sharp angles; lots and lots of football-shaped black triggerfish, and the tube-shaped cornetfish. Some can camouflage themselves – hiding in plain sight, while others rely on speed for protection. Some even use bold colors to avoid being eaten. Most butterflyfish are covered with beautiful bright colors because they are advertising their toxicity, just like butterflies are doing on land!
This crater has been through several transformations, not all of them geological. First, it erupted from the seafloor and later eroded. Then, the first Polynesians arrived in about 500 AD to discover a prime fishing spot in the crater. The reef had attracted fish, which naturally attracted bigger fish. During World War II, the U.S. Navy used Molokini Crater and the neighbor island of Kaho’olawe for bombing practice.
1977 was a banner year, as Molokini became a Marine Life Conservation District and State Bird Preserve! In the 1980s, divers moved some of the old unexploded bombs away from the fragile reef, and the bombs were detonated with less loss of marine life. Nowadays, as we all learn more, the protections to consider extend to using reef-safe sunscreen (or wearing rashguards and surf shorts for sun protection) while Molokini snorkeling and exploring any coral reef.
Let’s move on to Turtle Town! This is your second site of the day, and it’s located just offshore from Makena, on Maui’s south side. We call it Turtle Town because it’s a very good place to find Hawaiian green sea turtles swimming about. There are reef patches on the sandy bottom here, as well as plenty of coral built up along the lava formation extending out from the beach. You’re sure to love Turtle Town, and lunch happens once you’re out of the water. If you are done swimming and of age, you are welcome to have some cocktails, too!
The last time I went out on the Malolo, it was in mid-July, and the great frigatebirds (‘iwa) were nesting on the crater. I have always had a thing for these particular birds. An ‘iwa’s wingspan can be as wide as 12 feet, and when they float on the wind, they look like pterodactyls. I’d always tried to get a photo of one from the coast of Maui, but they don’t come by that often, and I had not yet been successful. I was so excited to see over one hundred of them flying around when we moored at Molokini! It was a dream come true for me, and I got a ton of photos!
When I jumped in for Molokini snorkeling, the fish in the crater were awesome, as always. The visibility was incredible, and I saw a triggerfish I’d never seen before; it had a bright yellow border along two of its fins and tail, and a dark blue “beard” on its chin. I still don’t know what kind it is. That’s one of the best things about Molokini snorkeling – you never know what you’ll see!
On the way back, several of the kids were on the trampolines at the bow, watching the water. (There are two trampolines on the boat. They stretch from each of the double hulls into the center, and they are great to lay out on.) When we left Turtle Town and headed back toward Ma’alaea Harbor, the boat rode the waves more than before. Each time we crested a wave, all the kids shrieked with anticipation, and each time the boat splooshed down into the wave trough, bouncing the trampoline and soaking the kids, they shouted with delight!
I had been sitting on the sidelines, enjoying watching the kids’ excitement, but I became concerned about some loose items that I thought might fly off the trampoline into the ocean. (If I had to pick just one pet peeve, it would be trashing the ocean.) I tackled the items on the trampoline, and then realized how much fun it was to be there myself! I had made friends with several of the passengers since boarding that morning, and one of them sat down next to me. We both felt like kids again, getting thrown into the air and being soaked by the salt water. Next time, I’m going to sit on the trampoline on purpose!
I had so much fun on that trip – Molokini snorkeling and checking out Turtle Town!
After your incredible half day on the Malolo, make sure to show what a good time you had by tipping your captain and crew. $10.00 for each adult member of your party and $5.00 for each child is a good rate. Your friendly, hard-working, safety-conscious crew will truly appreciate it.
By the way, did I mention that the crew serves cookies after lunch? See the amenities, below. (Not underwater below, just below what you’re reading now.)
Have a great time!
Who doesn’t love cookies? Yes, we have plenty for everyone. After lunch, we serve up our delicious chocolate chip cookies for your enjoyment. They are a great compliment after a morning of Molokini snorkeling. Guaranteed to please adults and kids.
Trampolines to lay out on
The bow of the boat has 2 trampolines to lay out on. They are also great to lay on on the way back from Molokini, as you’re riding the swell and getting splashed. Kids love this! I know I did when I was a kid.
It’s nice to have a place to get out of the sun after Molokini snorkeling, and our shady cabin is great for that. Rest on the comfy benches, have a drink, and watch the water or just take a nap.
Underwater digital camera and wetsuit rentals
We offer optional digital underwater camera rentals featuring Olympus Tough underwater housings and 16 megapixel digital cameras that also take video. These cameras hold hundreds of pictures and lots of video time. We offer wetsuit rentals which are great sun protection. They are very buoyant, so they help keep you afloat and they keep you warm.
I’ll see you on the boat!
Sunday is Molokini only! For Molokini and Turtle Town Sunday snorkeling click here.
Daily check-in time: 6:15am, return 12:30pm.
Slip #87 Maalaea Harbor
101 Maalaea Boat Harbor Rd Wailuku, HI 96793
For help call Maui Activities at 808-856-4274